The Laos-China Railway (also referred to as the Boten – Vientiane Railway) opened on 2 December 2021, making it the first passenger railway in Laos. This railway will be connected to trains from Kunming in China, and eventually, there will be direct services from Bangkok.
Laos also has a station at Thanaleng near the Thai-Laos Friendship Bridge. This station is used for a cross-border shuttle service from Nong Khai in Thailand. From Nong Khai you can get the train to Bangkok.
Maps of Laos Railways
Map of Laos Railway
Map of Lao-China Railway – by HoboMaps.com
Laos-China Railway (Boten – Vientiane)
[Train at Muang Xai.]
The Laos-China Railway is 414.332 kilometres, of which there are 258.5 kilometres of bridges and tunnels.
The line is a standard gauge (same as China and Europe) and uses electric-powered trains (EMU). The line is on a single track with passing loops. Express trains have a maximum speed of 160 km/h. Local trains and cargo trains travel up to 120 km/h.
Laos-China Railway Stations
There are 20 stations, with another 12 that will be built in the future:
The express trains stop at:
Boten (transfer for China trains)
Muong Xai (provincial capital of Oudomxay province)
There is also a local service that stops at all stations, and this is offered at a cheaper rate than the express service.
Laos-China Railway Tickets
[Ticket office at Luang Prabang Station.]
There is currently no official website that sells tickets. Why an online ticketing system wasn’t developed in the 5 years that it took to build the railway remains a mystery.
[Note: Baolau wasn’t available when I was in Laos so I don’t have any personal experience. I use Baolau frequently for Vietnam rail tickets so I will use them the next time I go to Laos.]
It was possible to buy tickets via the online travel agent Baolau, though ticket sales on the site have since been suspended.
Tickets are available at the train stations and at ticket offices in Vientiane and Luang Prabang.
Vientiane Ticket Office: Vientiane Center Mall.
Luang Prabang Ticket Office: Phothisalath Rd, next to Le Pavillon de Jade.
– Tickets are available 3 days in advance.
– Ticket offices only sell tickets for the same departure city, and they don’t take cash.
International service to China
Vientiane – Kunming train services began on 13 April 2023. There is one service a day in each direction.
Train D888 departs Vientiane at 8:08 and arrives in Kunming South at 19:38 (1 hour ahead in China).
Train D887 departs Kunming South at 8:08 and arrives in Vientiane at 17:38 (1 hour behind China time).
Laos-China Railway trip reports
Laos-China Railway – A review of the Vientiane to Boten train
My trip report of my travels along the entire length of the railway in May 2022.
Nong Khai (Thailand) – Thanaleng (Laos)
The Nong Khai – Thanaleng railway is an extension of the Bangkok to Nong Khai railway. This 4km railway is operated by Thai State Railways to Thanaleng, and from Thanaleng there are waiting minivans to complete the trip to Vientiane. Here is my trip report on how to get from Bangkok to Vientiane by train.
This is a metre-gauge railway, making it incompatible to be connected with the Laos-China Railway. Thailand is building a standard-gauge railway from Bangkok to Nong Khai, which will eventually connect with the Laos-China Railway.
Laos-China Railway news
Laos-China Railway boosts daily trips in preparation of tourism surge – [23/01/24]
“The Laos-China Railway Company has announced that it will increase the daily trips of its passenger trains to 12 journeys a day from the previous 10 daily journeys, effective from 22 January.”
BCEL One to be added as payment option in LCR app – [16/05/23]
Southeast Asia Railways
Read more train travel stories.